Moore the Merrier as American Defends Malaysian Title

Ryan Moore defended his title in Malaysia. Picture by Khalid Redza/Asian Tour
Ryan Moore defended his title in Malaysia. Picture by Khalid Redza/Asian Tour

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: American Ryan Moore successfully defended his title at the US$7 million CIMB Classic after a holding off the combined challenges from last year’s runner-up Gary Woodland, Kevin Na and Sergio Garcia.

Tied for the overnight lead, Moore, 31, produced some glorious golf down the stretch at a sun-kissed Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club [KLGCC] to shoot a five-under-par 67 for a stylish three-stroke victory.

He pocketed the champion’s cheque for US$1.26 million with his winning total of 17-under-par 271.

Na, a former Asian Tour rookie of the year, battled tooth-and-nail with Moore for much of the final round but missed makeable birdie chances on 14 and 16 before his hopes took a dent when an errant tee shot on 17 got stuck in the trees which led to a double-bogey.

The Korean-American recovered with a birdie at the last hole for a 70 to tie Woodland, who carded a 67, and world number four Garcia, who posted a closing 69, in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

Asian Tour rookie Cameron Smith of Australia extended his dream season by finishing tied fifth  on 276 alongside Korean Bae Sang-moon while Filipino Angelo Que and Thai Prom Meesawat were among those who shared eighth position on 278, with all three earning exemptions into next week’s PGA Tour event in Mississippi.

Moore birdied three of the last five holes to race to his fourth PGA Tour victory and become the first repeat champion at the CIMB Classic, which inaugurated in 2010 as the first PGA Tour event in Southeast Asia.

“It was incredible to finish the way I did. Coming down to the last few holes, I like to tell myself all the time that I’m a closer. That’s what I play golf for. These are the moments and what I’m out here for, so let’s do what we can. Let’s just hit good shots, and let’s see if we can close this thing, and I was able to do that,” said Moore.

Na, who won his first professional title in Malaysia in 2002 and was chasing a second PGA Tour victory, led by one at the turn before Moore drew level with his fifth birdie of the day on 10. The pivotal moment came on the driveable par-four 14th when Na found the green while Moore laid up.

As it turned out, Na three-putted for par while Moore hit a superb approach for an easy birdie to lead for the first time on his own in the final round. He sandwiched a bogey with birdies on 15 and 17 but it was enough to allow him to stroll home at the last hole.

Na was disappointed to let victory slip from his grasp. “It was my tournament but Ryan played fantastic. Hats off to him, he deserves it. It’s disappointing when you know you had the lead and it’s yours,” said Na.

Garcia, the highest ranked player in the field, stayed within touch of the leaders with an outward 33 but a poor drive on 10 led to a double-bogey seven which eventually took the steam out of his title run.

“Front nine, I was quite good and gave myself a lot of chances and I just had a really bad break on 10, hit my tee shot a little left and hit the cart path, and the ball kind of disappeared.  That one put me a little bit behind the eight-ball,” said the Spaniard.

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